Pretzels—they’ve always seemed to be around and plenty available. Whether fresh out of the oven or bagged and on a shelf, they seem to be one of the most accessible snack foods. They also happen to be the oldest. Yes, really. The origin of pretzels isn’t found in the 21st or even the 20th century. No, to properly trace the beginnings of these tasty knots of dough that come salted and pair exceptionally well with beer, we have to turn back the clocks by a considerable amount.
The beginnings of the pretzel date back to the 7th century. That’s right; we have to go back 1300 years to trace the beginning of the pretzel. Like many inventions that have lasted through the centuries, it was a necessity that brought the pretzel into existence. It all began with the Catholic Church. Catholic dogma was very strict rules regarding fasting and abstinence. Meat, milk, and eggs were all prohibited. So, out of necessity and adhering to the dogmatic law, a monk, whose name has been lost to history, crafted snacks made from flour, water, and salt.
He tied the dough into knots that had three holes, representing the holy trinity. These were given to students for good behavior. They were also hung on many Christmas Trees in Germany; a tradition still practiced in many countries today.
European colonists who crossed the Atlantic Ocean brought these tasty, twisted pieces of dough to the new world. This tradition has continued into modern times, with 80% of pretzels Americans eat coming from Pennsylvania. The concept of the hard pretzel commonly found in many grocery stores is an American invention credited to Pennsylvania baker Julius Sturgis in 1871. These lasted longer and were more easily distributed to stores across the country.
Pennsylvania and the Pretzel have such a strong cultural tie that in 2003 the state declared that April 26th would be known as National Pretzel Day. This was instituted to express gratitude for all these knots have done for the state’s cultural history and economy.
Just in case April is too far a wait, Boardwalk Craft Pretzels can be enjoyed all year long. We model out tasty knots after the craft beers that pair with them so well. For information and instructions on how to order, visit us at boardwalkfoodco.com.